The Nuggets value playmaking, no matter the shape or size it comes in. So is it any wonder the same organization that staked its future to a selfless, ground-bound center would also be attracted to Facundo Campazzo? For years, the 5-foot-11 firecracker dissected defenses for Real Madrid and the Argentinian national team, awing onlookers with his devilish passes and inspired play. The Nuggets were among those captivated. “Truth be told, Facu was not really a hidden gem,” said Rafal Juc, the Nuggets’ international scout. “He was arguably a top-five European player for half a decade or so. So basically, he’s been on our radar for a while.”
According to league sources, Campazzo made a significant financial commitment to aid his buyout from Real Madrid. From Denver’s perspective, it only showed how steadfast he was. The Nuggets eventually agreed to a two-year deal worth $6 million for Campazzo, a league source told The Post. “Any other teams, he could’ve easily taken probably bigger money, much bigger role on a team that would not be in the playoffs,” Nuggets scout Marty Pocius said. “I think for him the most important thing was to be in a winning culture and have a chance to win.”
Pocius has been Campazzo’s lifeline. After Pocius picked him up from DIA, he helped him with everything from settling into his new house, to installing TV and internet, teaching him to order food, to easing his transition into training camp. “He had a lot of questions about dynamics of the team, what to expect, the referees, the different rules, even the English language,” Pocius said. Their WhatsApp chain is littered with grammatical questions.
Every scout and executive knew Horton-Tucker had skills when he entered the draft. It’s just that his flaws were severe. He jacked up unwarranted jumpers, didn’t shoot well, and was an erratic decision-maker who didn’t make up for it on defense. To make matters worse, he had a stress reaction in his foot that derailed his predraft workouts and caused him to fall out of shape. Horton-Tucker was a theoretical two-way presence in a draft littered with safer bets but the Lakers were willing to take the risk in the middle of the second round and he’s already changed the habits that scared off other teams.
Now, 11 months later, Nelson is the newly-minted Assistant General Manager of the Blue Coats. He will also serve as a 76ers scout. “I hope I didn’t say too many bad things,” Nelson said with a laugh. Nelson is not far removed from his own playing days. He last suited up in an NBA game in the spring of 2018. The 38-year-old Chester, PA native and former National Player of the Year at Saint Joseph’s University holds 14 seasons’ worth of NBA playing experience. In 878 career games, the bulk of which were played with the Orlando Magic, he averaged 11.3 points and 5.1 assists.
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